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Luigi's Mansion 3, reviewed: Nintendo's Ghostbusters

This is better enjoyed on a non-Lite Switch -- here's why.

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Ghost dog. So adorable.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Nintendo has so many Mario game spinoffs, it's easy to have your eyes glaze over and lose the thread on what's good. Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Mario Kart... and over in the corner, the mysterious, occasionally surfacing franchise that is Luigi's Mansion.

I never played the original GameCube game, but I played the heck out of the Nintendo 3DS sequel and realized it's one of the best Nintendo "B-side" games out there. Luigi's Mansion 3 arrives on the Nintendo Switch in Year 3 of the console's lifecycle, just in time for Halloween. How does it stack up?

Very, very well is the answer... but may I recommend that you play this game on an original (or V2) Switch?

Read more: Best Nintendo Switch accessories for 2019  

I've played the game, so far, on a Switch Lite, and by the way, I'm still having a blast. Luigi's Mansion games involve a lot of careful hunting around in mysterious mansions where ghosts and treasure are hidden. It's a scavenger hunt and escape room and, just like Ghostbusters, you're sucking ghosts into your backpack (OK, close enough, you know what I mean). The characters, environments and graphics quality are all stellar. 

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Gooigi is a weird green jelly-Luigi.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Luigi's Mansion makes full use of the Switch controls, from the buttons to the triggers to the motion controls. The Switch Lite is fine, but I missed having rumble. Luigi's Mansion 3 uses rumble feedback to indicate where ghosts and secrets might lurk. I'd prefer having it.

The rich environments beg for a larger screen to see details, making this a great living-room game... and that's where the TV-dockable Switch (not the Switch Lite) makes the most sense. Kick back, take it in like a Disney movie.

But the biggest reason to play on a non-Lite Switch is that this game's perfect for co-op. Clicking in on the right stick makes the green jelly-like Gooigi appear, who becomes a second golem Luigi for doing more complicated co-op puzzles. One player can swap between Luigi and Gooigi, but it's even better when your friend (or kid) can join in. That's best done on a TV and a second controller.

I love the adorable weirdness. Luigi as a green-jelly doppelganger! Lurking ghosts! And the in-game map interface is delivered on a Virtual Boy! Ridiculous.

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There's a Virtual Boy in this game! There's a Virtual Boy in this game!

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

I haven't even tried the Scarescraper mode, a multiplayer survival game that should extend playing life even further. I haven't finished the main story mode yet, but I've had a fun time on the journey. Different floors of the haunted hotel Luigi and his old gang of friends (Mario, Peach, Toad) get unlocked as each level and its bosses are defeated. It's an absorbing ride, but not one I'm sure I'll want to replay. There are secret gems and treasures to keep searching for, but it's not the open-ended playground Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Maker 2 or Zelda: Breath of the Wild is. 

Even so, it's probably one of my favorite Switch games from Nintendo this year. On sale, I'd dive on it. With kids, it's great. But, whenever possible, I'd enjoy this one on the biggest screen possible... with someone else playing along, too.